February is the heart of winter, nestled between December’s winter solstice and March’s vernal equinox. It’s also the month of the biggest football game: the Super Bowl and everyone wants to bring their A-game to the party. After all, the Super Bowl is the unofficial American holiday of eating, drinking, and spending time with friends. Sports fan or not, the odds are you will find yourself spending Super Bowl Sunday with food and a glass of wine in your hand.What do you pair with typical football/Super Bowl party food? Is there anything that pairs perfectly with nachos and chicken wings? Okay, we know traditionally beer and nachos, or baseball and apple pie go together, but sometimes sports fans need a nice glass of wine during the game.
Football parties don’t have to involve low-fare food items. Flatbread pizza made in a brick oven, baked falafel balls, or fancy hor d’oeuvres can be paired with wine and and wow everyone in attendance.
Pizza: Did you know the “official pizza provider” of the Super Bowl, expects to sell over a million pizzas on Sunday? When pairing a wine with something like pizza, keep in mind what the main flavor of the pizza will be.
A good bet: Sasyr by Rocca delle Macie, Italy: An easy drinking red blend of 60% Sangiovese and 40% Syrah. Made with grapes from the Maremma vineyards, the color is a deep ruby red, the scent is a little tart. The flavor is dry and smooth with notes of tangy fruit, and light blackberry. The sweet notes dry on the finish but this blends character is smooth and easy drinking. Perfect for pairing with beef, roast pork, cheeses, meat dishes with green peppers, lasagna or pasta with tomatoes, or a meaty pizza.
Chips and Guacamole: Chips are essentially a blank slate. Add some salsa on top and you can pair it with: Miguel Torres S.A. Ribera del Duero Celeste Blue Label, a Spanish Ribera del Duero Tempranillo. A true tempranillo combo: rich fruit with structure. This full-bodied wine has a spicy and intense nose. It’s full of licorice, anise, black pepper, with well-ripened blackberry and cherry fruit notes. Very fruity on the palate, with a touch of anise, toasty wood, and delineating tannins and acidity. Perfect for sipping on its own, paired with lamb, pork, pungent cheeses or grilled oily fish.
Chili: A pot of chili is a mainstay at football parties because it’s easy to make, can be offered in a variety of styles, and will stick to your ribs. A good choice for any kind of chili: Cono Sur Bicicleta Carmenere, Colchagua Valley, Chile. This single varietal Carmenere from South America’s Southern Cone is a plush mouthful of Chile. Here, the ripe blackberry and cassis flavors perfectly contrast with bright, spicy, pipe tobacco and pepper flavors. Smooth and rich, it’s meaty, with a snappy, spicy finish and moderate, cleansing tannins. Pair with anything from pizza to prime rib, sandwiches to chicken salad, soups and stews to sautéed lamb chops or Mexican dishes. It also pairs well with blue cheeses, and Asiago.
Burgers, Brats or Chocolate: Henry’s Drive Shiraz, South Australia: No mistaking this for anything but a Syrah from the Land of Oz. It’s like swallowing liquid, nonsweet boysenberry jam, with whispers of chocolate and cracked black pepper. It has those tannins only syrah can sport — immense but supple. It is juicy. Pair with dark meats; hearty, herbed bean or vegetable ragout.
Spicy Buffalo wings and Cajun specialties: Achaval-Ferrer Malbec Finca Altamira, Malbec, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina: This wine consistently is rated 90+ year in and year out. Needless to say, it’s an all time favorite here. It is an outstanding Malbec grape with its entrancing aromatic array of truffle, black cherry and plum. It is opulent on the palate, revealing complex flavors along with its considerable depth, richness and length. With its extraordinary earthiness, terrific, come-hither scents of cocoa and the decadently rich, layered black cherry fruit, this wine is a hedonists dream come true. This red is made for beef, lamb and pork dishes, and don’t shy away from a little heat; this Malbec can handle it! A classic braised beef, peppers and onions over yellow rice with toasted cumin, curried lamb patties as well as fuller-flavored dishes, firm cheeses are guaranteed to work well. It’s great by itself! It’s highly recommended that you decant this wine for at least an hour before drinking. About $89+.
This list obviously doesn’t cover all of the Super Bowl food items you could pair with wine, but hopefully these double-duty, versatile wines will give you a start.